About 120 km northeast to east of Miraiy lies a region of hills, valleys and forests. The area is called Pagan Hills because according to folklore it was once home to pagan witches. It is a place filled with mystery. A place where many myths and legends were born. It stretches from the northern marshlands all the way to the southern steppe. In the west it is partially bordered by the [name] Flats and by [forest]. To the east are several wood- and grasslands.
Of Hags and Crones
As far as history goes the Pagan Hills have always been associated with witchcraft and magic. There are countless tales about powerful witches and sorcerers who supposedly once lived in the region. Even today many ghynzuans believe the pagans who still live there are just as skilled in magic as their ancestors used to be. It is a place one goes to when in need of a magical potion or spell. Whether these work is another matter though. Most scientists deny the existence of magic and oppose the sale of so called magical items. More than one petition has reached the Empire's government throughout the centuries with the intend of putting a stop to the sale of potions and spells. The Grand Council deems this practice harmless though and so people keep traveling to the pagan villages keeping this peculiar trade in business. Fact remains however that The Pagan Hills are home to some of the world's biggest mysteries. If not magic what else?
Thurhyll is by far the largest village in the Pagan Hills. It thrives mostly on tourism. Visitors can not only find good lodging here but it is also the place where one goes to to find guarded tours through the region. Most first time visitors remain in the village where they enjoy pagan cuisine and buy a number of wares in the various shops. One can find anything from potions, medicine, amulets and spells to wood carvings, scarfs, toys, etc.
For ages the Pagan Hills were a place avoided by the clans of central East Eghea. After The Founding of Ghynzua however the Empire kept pushing further and further into clan territory. This forced the clans to retreat not only to the north and south, but also to the east where they had little option then to flee into the Pagan Hills. Kings and warlords pushed their shamans fears aside and killed or enslaved any pagans they found. This ended with the pagans asking Ghynzua for protection against the clans, since it was the Empire which caused the clans to flee into the hills. In exchange for this protection the region became part of the Empire. But the pagans never seemed to mind. The Empire brought them safety and commerce. The taxes they pay are fair and they are allowed a certain degree of freedom to live their life as they have always done. Throughout the ages the matriarchal believes of the Empire did seep into pagan society where women in the old days were already viewed as equals to men. Nowadays most pagan villages are led by a matriarch, and the entire pagan community is led by their own council which has multiple seats in the ghynzuan government.
Trade and Commerce
Commercially the pagans have benefited greatly from the Empire. A new trade route was established when Ghynzua build one of their Wide Roads to connect their west coast to their east coast. The route runs through the Pagan Hills and passes Thurhyll from where it continues to several cities on the east coast. This opened up trade for the pagans to the rest of the Empire. Pagan Hills is rich in resources if one knows where to look. Various spices and herbs can be found nowhere else. The pagans had already gathered and processed these for ages so it was merely a small step for them to start doing so on a larger scale. Certain medicinal plants are not only sold in Ghynzua but are also exported to places like Ippah.
The road also made it a lot easier for people to travel to Thurhyll. Over the years more and more people started visiting the village to buy potions, spells and other items that are believed to have magic properties. The pagans didn't leave it at that though. They started selling all sorts of trinkets, woodcarvings, toys, clothing and so on. This in turn brought people to the village who were not looking for magical items but did want to experience the pagan way of life. The village has grown due to tourism and offers various sorts of lodging and guarded tours through the region. Recently the woodcarving workshops have become very popular among tourists.
FloraThe hillsides of Pagan Hills are dotted with trees. Evergreens like pine, spruce and fir trees can be found in abundance. But one can also find trees like oak, maple, birch and beech. The blood-oak is perhaps the most peculiar of all. With its poisonous blood-red bark it lends itself to an entirely separate trade. Apart from trees the hills are also covered in various grasses and flowers.
WildlifeA great variety of animals can be found all throughout the hills, valleys and forested areas of Pagan Hills. Ranging from squirrels, rabbits and deer to spotted hillcats and bears. The streams are home to fish like salmon and trout. And ofcourse, one can also find species of The Inflicted.
ThurhyllThe largest village in Pagan Hills is home to the Pagan Council which represents the pagan ethnicity in Ghynzua. It is also the center of tourism for Pagan Hills and the place from where pagan products are distributed to the rest of the Empire.
Read more about Thurhyll here.